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Thursday, May 23, 2024 at 1:25 AM
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Special session to begin on Oct. 9

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Special session to begin on Oct. 9

Gov. Greg Abbott issued a letter to legislative leaders indicating a special session will begin on Oct. 9 dealing with what he has called “school choice” but is more widely known as vouchers.

The Austin American-Statesman reported Abbott has threatened another special session if lawmakers can’t come to an agreement this month, and then will take the issue to voters by finding candidates to run against those opposing vouchers.

During the regular session, a coalition of Democrats and many rural House Republicans blocked legislation concerning vouchers that had easily passed the Senate.

Abbott has spent much of this year traveling the state encouraging parents and pastors to advocate for school choice.

“I will keep fighting every step of the way until we have school choice in the state of Texas,” Abbott said.

Opponents of vouchers say they would divert taxpayer money from public schools. Many public school district leaders say they already struggle to balance their budgets and retain teachers.

Delayed farm bill passage worries ag producers

One of the key bills delayed by the wrangling in Congress is the massive farm bill, which is renewed every five years.

The Texas Tribune reports a temporary extension of the current bill is expected to pass, however. The farm bill is key to a host of programs, from crop insurance to food access for low-income families through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP.

“In a perfect world, we get a farm bill this year.

If we don’t, though, let’s extend it. And let’s not pass a farm bill just to say we passed a farm bill,” Laramie Adams, national legislative director for the Texas Farm Bureau, said. “We want to make sure that the farm bill is meaningful.”

Since the last farm bill was passed in 2018, farmers have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine cutting world grain shipments and rising costs for equipment and fuel. Meanwhile, market prices for most agricultural products remain stagnant.

“As you look at that and inflation and adjusting for inflation, from our perspective, we need to look at strengthening crop insurance,” Adams said. “And that is not an easy task.”

Supreme Court to decide on Paxton’s back pay

After being acquitted in his impeachment trial, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking around $50,000 in back pay. However, the state comptroller’s office says the best course of action is to let the Texas Supreme Court decide, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

The comptroller’s office is responsible for authorizing payments, and Paxton’s pay was withheld when he was impeached and suspended from office in late May by the Texas House. Paxton was acquitted by the Senate in September.

“Because we disagree with your interpretation of the Texas Constitution on this very important issue, we encourage you to file a writ of mandamus with the Texas Supreme Court for a definitive ruling,” read the letter signed by Victoria North, the comptroller’s general counsel on fiscal and agency affairs.

Meanwhile, four exemployees of Paxton have asked the Texas Supreme Court for permission to move forward with a wrongful termination suit against their ex-boss since they still haven’t received their settlement money, kut.org reported. The four had reached a $3.3 million settlement with Paxton in February, but the Texas Legislature never approved the settlement.

They are now seeking to move forward with the lawsuit in Travis County.

Gary Borders is a veteran award-winning Texas journalist. He published a number of community newspapers in Texas during a 30-year span, including in Longview, Fort Stockton, Nacogdoches, Lufkin and Cedar Park. Email: gborders@ texaspress.com.


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